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Copywriters: When working as a freelancer, what do you look for in an employer?

Discussion in 'Copywriting' started by JessieQ, Jan 30, 2010.

  1. #1
    Copywriters:

    When you're working as a freelancer, is there anything you do to screen potential employers?

    ie do you look for:
    - Someone who knows what they're looking for (to avoid back and forth)
    - Good rating
    - High level of pay

    What's important to qualify someone who's looking to hire you?
    SEMrush
     
    JessieQ, Jan 30, 2010 IP
    SEMrush
  2. jhmattern

    jhmattern Illustrious Member

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    #2
    First, when I work as a freelancer I don't look for "employers" -- I look for clients. There is a significant legal difference.

    I don't really look for clients anymore because my schedule's set with regulars long-term, but if I were to again here's what I'd look for (qualities current clients already have):

    - They should know what they want to a reasonable degree. While I can help them turn a vague idea into a workable plan, they need to have some idea of what they want.

    - They can't be overbearing. I won't work with clients who constantly call and email multiple times per day for updates. They have to understand that as a professional I have clients other than them (and if they want a full commitment they need to hire an employee rather than a contractor). Clients who insist on long phone conferences, run edits past a dozen colleagues (and make a lot of edit requests as a result), etc. would not be clients I would keep for long.

    - They'd have to be able to afford my rates.

    - They have to respect me as a professional. All of mine do. I'm very lucky. Some writers are treated as disposable little drones, and I wouldn't tolerate that from a client anymore than they would tolerate an incompetent writer.

    It doesn't take much to make a client-writer relationship successful. An adequate budget, mutual respect, and the ability to communicate pretty much cover it.
     
    jhmattern, Jan 30, 2010 IP
  3. JessieQ

    JessieQ Guest

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    #3
    Well said,

    When you're talking with prospective clients, is there anything you do up front to qualify them and recognize who is likely to be overbearing or lacking respect?
     
    JessieQ, Jan 31, 2010 IP
  4. jhmattern

    jhmattern Illustrious Member

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    #4
    Since mine are usually referrals from colleagues and other clients, there's a certain amount of trust built in up front. But if it's someone completely new and you have no private feedback on them, you could send them a project brief to outline the project details. If they can't outline what they want and who the target market or audience is, then that could be a sign they'll be a bit more difficult to work with.

    Something else that makes me skeptical is when they get in touch asking me a bunch of questions when the answers are readily available on my site. If they could find my site and find my contact information, they could have seen the "rates" link glaring at them just as easily. If they won't invest time into researching their prospective contractors, how serious are they about the project and can you count on them to be thorough when you need them to be? It's not a good sign.
     
    jhmattern, Jan 31, 2010 IP
  5. lightless

    lightless Notable Member

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    #5
    Well if it was possible, I would try to avoid people who

    1] Are stingy or always looking to cut corners
    2] Are very demanding (Tax your energy)
    3] Are perfectionists (Hard to satisfy, multiple revisions may be needed)
    4] Have unrealistic expectations of quality, turnaround etc
    5] Have a past history of scamming or abusive behavior (Judging from forum posts, iTrader etc)
    6] Expect too much (Quality, quantity, speed) for too little remuneration
    7] Treat you like a machine (Expect you to get much work done within short time periods)
    8] Get annoyed/angry easily
     
    lightless, Feb 1, 2010 IP
  6. DDunique

    DDunique Peon

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    #6
    Very helpful. Thanks for the tips.
     
    DDunique, Feb 2, 2010 IP
  7. internetauthor

    internetauthor Peon

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    #7
    I find my best and favorite clients are ones who have a bit of fun with their life and business. Unlike some others, I prefer to chat with clients on IM rather than the phone, and those who are comfortable and casual on IM are the ones I'm comfortable working with. Stiff, arrogant and pushy clients don't sit well with me. Most of my work comes through referrals or are long-term clients as well, so it seems be all enjoy a bit of casual professionalism in my corner of the world. In laymen's terms, that means I like clients who can BS a bit and are easy to talk to when discussing projects - easy-to-get along with colleagues rather than an elusive "employer."
     
    internetauthor, Feb 3, 2010 IP
  8. creativeearth

    creativeearth Guest

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    #8
    I would say that they should have good communication, honest, someone who knows what they want, and some on who has a great representation when it comes down to payment.
     
    creativeearth, Feb 3, 2010 IP
  9. sevenstarswriting

    sevenstarswriting Peon

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    #9
    I have to agree with most posts here. I think good communcation from a potential client is definitely the most important factor. I've had clients who were unable to tell me anything that they wanted even after I sent over all the things I needed in a brief to work out time and costs for a project. After about a week of going nowehere you tend to give up! What annoys me is that all people care about is finding out how much it will cost. Even though my rates are ultra-competitive, I find about half of all potentials don't get back to me after I ask for as much information as possible to give them a fair outline of time and cost. I'm not being shady - I'm trying to be the opposite of shady! Sunny!
     
    sevenstarswriting, Feb 4, 2010 IP
  10. Copywriter-ac

    Copywriter-ac Peon

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    #10
    A good product or service, the ability to throw plenty of eyeballs at my copy and a decent budget.

    Personalities don't come into it - if you're making them money they love you, if they're paying me plenty I love them.



    AC
     
    Copywriter-ac, Feb 7, 2010 IP
  11. lostpoet

    lostpoet Well-Known Member

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    #11
    I think you just have to go through a few clients to understand what type works for you. I have long term commitments and mine contact me about once a month. They are all busy people and so am I. If they need something changed or need to notify me about something, they email me. They don't go berserk out if I don't reply them within 24 hours (which I usually do but still). And they are open to talking about rates for new projects or when they make changes to the way I work. That's the kind I would look for if I have to look for clients anew. I like working on my own terms. It is the reason why I chose to freelance instead of getting a fixed job somewhere.

    Referrals are already scoped out a bit for you, like JHMattern pointed out. But for new clients, I'd be a bit tentative and try to read between the lines. Look at how often they email/contact you after the initial briefing is over. The tone and the frequency are always good indicators of the PITA factor ;).

    In the end, IMO, if they see that you are a reliable and consistent provider, they would really like to keep working with you. Which would also make them assign some extra value to you and respect more you as a writer. No one likes to change providers every now and then and it's the same from the providers' end.

    Best of luck client hunting! :)
     
    lostpoet, Feb 7, 2010 IP
  12. markymilitia

    markymilitia Peon

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    #12
    I'd say that the most important trait for a client to have is a good level of understanding - they need to understand the extent of work involved in order to meet their expectations. A lot of clients are kind of short-sighted at times i find, when they issue ridiculous deadlines and expect a masterpiece.... some people just don't get it!
     
    markymilitia, Feb 8, 2010 IP
  13. monty2002

    monty2002 Well-Known Member

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    #13
    Communication is key for me. If someone is responding to my lengthy e-mails with one or two lines that were clearly written on a blackberry in a rush, they probably aren't worth dealing with.

    The person should also understand why you are charging them what you are charging. If you're giving them a discount or working for a lower rate, they should be happy about that and not demanding you make 1000 changes to your work. Likewise, if you're working at a higher rate, they should understand it's going to take longer.
     
    monty2002, Feb 9, 2010 IP
  14. tmi

    tmi Peon

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    #14
    Trust and experience. You want to know that the person you are writing for is going to respect the working relationship and honour his or her side of the agreement.
     
    tmi, Feb 9, 2010 IP
  15. acadianapa

    acadianapa Peon

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    #15
    What I look for in a potential client are:

    1. payment (naturally)
    2. Somewhat clear communication (at least in answer to my questions).
    3. Provides specific directions regarding what they need, how much, when, for what, etc.

    I have been extremely lucky. Virtually every client I have worked with has been easy to deal with.

    One more thing: I prefer email to phone conversations. I offer my phone number as proof that I am a "real" person running a serious business, but people who want phone conversations for the type of writing I provide are usually talkers and time wasters.
     
    acadianapa, Mar 20, 2010 IP
  16. copy4you

    copy4you Peon

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    #16
    leaving aside the legal difference between employers and clients that was pointed out, being a freelance copywriter I do look for an employer :) because my own business is a small start-up for the time being and I would be happy to work as a copywriter for a company and at the same time step by step develop my own freelance business.
    In potential client I look for people skills because I believe communication is the most important thig, then the rest is easy to be negotiated ;)
     
    copy4you, Mar 20, 2010 IP